Or you can enjoy this brief review:
For the sake of this discussion, self esteem is tying the worth of your being to the outcome of your actions. You achieve this outcome-based self worth by 1) meeting your own expectations or 2) placating someone else’s short lived and conditional approval of you.
If you do a good job of meeting expectations, then good. You are good.
If you fail to meet expectations, then bad. You are a failure.
But achieving this kind of self worth sends us into a vicious loop: forever riding a hellish merry-go-round that is fueled by our need to achieve. As our self esteem cranks the ride, we circle the familiar sights:
- pressure to perform
- self sabotaging performance anxiety
- poor performance
- greater pressure to perform
And the ride goes on and on until we are left with nothing but depression and a broken self-image.
Our only escape options are
- Be perfect all the time.(I’ve tried this. It doesn’t work)
- Eliminate all risk. (I’ve tried this too. It also doesn’t work.)
The first option is absurd, and the second robs you of your ability to grow. Your stunted growth kills your self esteem and dumps your right back on the merry-go-round.
Your need for self worth via accomplishment cripples your chance of getting it. If you ARE able to increase your self esteem, you can’t even enjoy it because you are so anxious about losing it. This anxiety kills your achievement efficacy making you worse at everything.
You end up teaching yourself to hate feeling good about anything ESPECIALLY your achievements. And this discourages achievement across your lifespan, (which yet again kills self worth due to low levels of achievement).
This is where I lived. I didn’t even know that it was possible to exist without suffocating anxiety. It was exhausting.
So what is the real answer?
But first, a question:
If you do a dumb thing does that make you a dumb person?
In the context of self esteem and outcome-based value: Yes. It sure does.
In the context of Dr. Kashey’s definition of self-respect, the answer is an unequivocal: NO.
Dr. Kashey’s definition of respect is evaluating performance exclusive of the entity.
When you show yourself respect, you separate your thoughts, beliefs and actions from who you are as a person.
Making a mistake is different from being a mistake.
You are a human with infinite capability and possibility. We get so lost in all of our insecurities; the things we hate about ourselves; the things we want to hide.
We get so caught up in how we are falling short of our potential, we lose sight of how great that potential is. We have human brains and human bodies and the human capacity to think and work. All of that is incredible.
We are so much more than the last thing we did.
Self Respect and Self Worth
Prior to the relatively recent obsession with self esteem, the long dead Asian, Greek and Roman intellectuals actually had a consensus on the topic of worth.
Here are three takeaways from that consensus:
- Accepting yourself in total, even the stuff you despise, is a choice and one best taken
- What you do with yourself in the present is a choice that you should make on purpose, with purpose
- Worth is generated through purpose
When my self worth was dependent on my self esteem, I would swing wildly between complete denial about my shortcomings and being completely enveloped by them. Neither of these options allowed me to move past them.
The outcome of your decisions in the past shape the direction of your decisions in the present. But you have to be able to actually look at your decisions without covering your eyes or wallowing in defeat.
When you embrace self respect you can use the outcomes of your decisions to analyze WHAT YOU HAVE DONE instead of using them to determine WHO YOU ARE.
Is it all possible to be a perfectly smart person that did a silly thing?
Then how could a silly mistake mean you are an idiot?
Kick self esteem to the curb and embrace self respect. It is yours for the taking AND yours for the keeping.
Now I want to be clear…
While self respect is infinitely superior to self esteem, transitioning your mindset is not easy. There will be days where you make a choice you particularly despise, and you want nothing more than to crawl back into the abusive arms of self esteem. You have been practicing this mindset for a lifetime. It might hurt you, but it feels familiar, safe.
There will be times where you would rather label yourself as a failure and quit than accept your place in the driver seat carry on.
For me personally, there was even an interim period where I relied heavily on the respect of others before I was able to give it to myself.
But I did get off the merry go round. I am free from the constant anxiety. I am in the driver’s seat.
Self-respect is yours for the taking. And since you are the only one who can take it for yourself, you are the only person who can take it away. It is yours to take and yours to keep. It always has been and always will be.
When your self worth is no longer tied to each action you take, you become free.
Free from the anxiety cycle.
Free from the need to perform.
Free to make mistakes.
You are free to recognize your mistakes for what they are and LEARN FROM THEM. You can accept the actions you have taken and move away from the ones you dislike and towards the ones that your prefer.
By taking stock you increase the space between stimulus and response, just enough to inject logic and reason.
You transform from being a passive impulse-driven, system-1 brained passenger to an active, rational system- 2 brain driver.
You move forward on purpose, with purpose and every outcome—good and bad—fuels that purpose and strengthens your self worth.
If you’re interested in having more control over the outcomes in your life, I strongly recommend reaching out for support. Changing your mindset is never easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. You can have an army at your back.
Changing your mindset is never easy, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Self Respect and Self Worth
Three Take Aways:
- Accepting yourself in total, even the stuff you desire, is a choice and one best taken
- What you do with yourself in the present is a choice that you should make on purpose with purpose
- Worth is generated through purpose
About Jacquelyn Laporte
Jacquelyn LaPorte has had the privilege of working with TKN since 2018. The journey has been a wild one, but it has ushered her into the driver’s seat of her own life. She learned how to ask questions, answer them honestly and act on the answers. She has used this process to become a better parent to her 3 kids, a better wife, a better boss, a better learner, a better human. She believes that no experience is wasted, (not even majoring in a dead language with no career plan😊 or starting a business with 0 entrepreneurial spirit). Each experience gives the gift of new eyes. Perfect choices are not required, and that makes her free to choose.
“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, and every one of them sufficient.”
Team TKN cultivates, curates and shares Dr. Trevor Kasheys’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.